Anthony Flew, Former Atheist

04Feb08

One of the most vocal atheistic voices over recent years was that of Anthony Flew, son of a methodist preacher and analytic philosopher.  However, in 2004 (at the age of 79) he began to endorse a form of deism, even writing to Tony Blair and asking that intelligent design be included in the UK science curriculum.  See this New York Times article for details of his ‘conversion’. 

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8 Responses to “Anthony Flew, Former Atheist”

  1. 1 Samuel Skinner

    He wasn’t the most vocal atheist voice. That would be Dawkins or one of the other recent authors. It is worth taking a look at the arguements that converted him- they are basically design arguements. The exception is “why is there something rather than nothing” which theism can’t actually explain.

  2. Perhaps… but Dawkins is ostensibly an evolutionary biologist, not a philosopher.

  3. 3 Samuel Skinner

    Well, yeah. Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist. But he isn’t dealing with philosophy, he is dealing with theology. And while philosophy deals with morality, ethics and should questions, theology claims to represent reality. The second is alot easier to deal with.

    Also Flew really isn’t that famous. It is irrelevant to the truth of the matter, but I hate when people hype things up.
    In addition I have seem Flew’s reasons. They are arguement from design (living things, universe) and arguement from existance. Ironically science has answers to the first and last one- physics hasn’t solved the middle one, but they won’t stop till they have answers.

  4. I should have thought that a biologist deals first and foremost in biology. You seem to have a rather reductive account of philosophy. Where do epistemology or metaphysics fit into this account? It may well be that Dawkins habitually fails to respect disciplinary boundaries, but to suggest that theology has some sort of exclusive access to reality is misleading. I wonder what you mean by ‘representation’ of reality at the end of your first paragraph.

    You have only to Google Flew’s name to get a sense of the ripples caused by Flew’s vacillations on the subject of the existence of God. You might not think he’s famous, but within certain circles he’s almost a talismanic figure. You can see the recent discourse for yourself at http://www.secweb.org/index.aspx?action=viewAsset&id=369.

    You final comments are rather puzzling. There only seem to be two arguments mentioned, but you refer to three. What is the ‘middle one’?

  5. 5 Matthew

    I fail to see how he originally justified being an atheist.

  6. Maybe the sceptic is kind of obliged to remain agnostic?

  7. 7 Matthew

    That would not make you an atheist.

  8. 8 Matthew

    Do post-Wittgenstein atheists reject his work?


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